Recently I was out for dinner with my wife and my brother-in-law. We were eating in a family friendly restaurant, so we were surrounded by young families out celebrating one birthday or another.

Across from our table was one such family, and as I cast my eye across the room, my attention was caught by one of the children sat at their table. She was probably around six or seven years old, and her t-shirt said in big, bold letters: “I WANT TO BE FAMOUS.”

The aspiration to fame is hardly a rarity these days, but I think we’re slowly awakening to the truth that fame can’t possibly be all that it’s cracked up to be. ITV’s flagship talent show, The X Factor, is experiencing a decline in viewers (as well as quality), while the world watches in a mixture of horror and amazement as the Kardashians somehow make international news time and again merely by posting selfies.

I must admit that as a teenager my dream was to be a world famous rock star. I was sure that I was going to be the next Eddie Van Halen. Thankfully, after a bad experience of digestive distress while on tour in Europe the trajectory of my life changed and I left my desire for fame behind.

That slogan on the young girl’s t-shirt had quite an effect on me. I was shocked that this was the kind of aspiration being built into our children, although really I should have come to expect such things by now. I just can’t help asking the question: “Why?” Why are we so obsessed with fame for fame’s sake, and what will happen when children like the one I saw at dinner grow up and discover that they can’t all be famous?

As I reflect on my own former desire for fame, there was one clear reason behind it all: recognition. Irish pop-rock outfit The Script accurately express the desire of a generation to be “standing in the hall of fame, and the world’s going to know your name”. I used to daydream about acceptance speeches at awards ceremonies, interviews on TV and features about me in all the magazines. Somewhere inside me, I assumed that those things were what I needed to fulfil me and make me feel like a success, like my life was worth something.

What changed for me wasn’t just the European illness, but the recognition which came with it, that what I really wanted in life – what would really constitute success for me – was simply to make a difference in whatever way I can. Being a loving husband, a good father eventually, and helping people discover that they are valued far more than they think – those things are far more important to me than fame.

I don’t know if that girl will ever be famous. I don’t want to pass judgment on her or her parents who bought her that t-shirt. Even so, I hope that she and others like her grow up to discover their value as people, famous or otherwise.

Written by Jack Skett // Jack's  Website

Jack Skett is an assistant pastor at Elim Church Selly Oak in Birmingham, along with his wife Annie. He oversees evangelism and social media, as well as the young adults ministry. He is a huge fan of Star Wars, Marvel Comics and Tolkien amongst other things. He blogs about modern apologetics issues on his website.

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